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5 habits that could be making your allergies worse


Allergy season came early to Atlanta this year (surprise!)

We can thank warmer temperatures, more wind blowing pollen around and El Nino's wet conditions that created the perfect environment for pollen-producing trees and grasses to thrive.

Related: Atlanta weather | Pollen’s back; sunshine’s ahead; and rain’s up next

Already that dusting of pollen has left Atlantans driving around in yellow-tinged cars and wearing paper masks. Allergy suffers have sneezed, sniffled and coughed their way through March.

At American Family Care (AFC), the urgent care clinic with a half-dozen metro area locations, practitioners have seen an increasing number of allergy sufferers. Many of them come in thinking they have a common cold that turns out to be allergies, said Dr. Jeremy Allen, a board certified family practitioner at American Family Care.

Related: Feeling yucky? It’s probably the high pollen count

Even those who have never had allergy symptoms before may find themselves suffering and along with longtime allergy sufferers they may be unwittingly doing things to make their symptoms worse. Here are the five top habits that can make your allergies worse:

Drinking (more) alcohol:  According to one Danish study cited by AFC, you can increase the risk of seasonal allergies by 3 percent for every additional alcoholic beverage you drink in any given week. Researchers theorize that the bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines and cause a stuffy nose or itchy eyes.

Making your bed:  To the dismay of moms everywhere, making your bed can make your allergies worse. Dust mites like to snuggle up in bedding and mattresses.  According to AFC physicians, while you sleep at night, moisture from body sweat helps fuel those dust mites.  Making your bed when you wake up, gives them a cozy place to hunker down. Airing out your sheets can make it harder for allergens and bedbugs to stay alive.

Wearing contact lenses:  In some cases, lenses can trap pollen against the surface of the eye, say AFC doctors. If you suffer from red, itchy eyes triggered by your allergies and you happen to wear contact lenses, it may be a good time to switch to glasses until you have some relief.

Using the dishwasher: A helping hand in the kitchen could be an enemy of your child's health. Researchers in a Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics found children do not develop as many allergies if they eat of a hand washed dishes rather than plates or bowls cleaned in a dishwasher, say AFC experts. Automated dishwashers kill so much bacteria children cannot build up an immunity.

Read more: Local doctor's advice will help your little one breathe easier

Eating certain fruits and vegetables:   Fruits and veggies are staples of a healthy diet, but researchers with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found proteins in certain foods can cause ragweed sufferers to end up with an itchy mouth. This includes foods such as bananas, melons and tomatoes which can cause a reaction.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.